Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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That “Turreted Monster.”


January and February 1863

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, March 16, 1863.


Admiral Porter’s Narrative of the Construction and Career of his “Dummy Monitor.”

[Wash. correspondence of the New York Herald.]

A private letter has been received here by a naval officer from Acting Rear Admiral Porter, which has created much amusement in Cabinet circles. It seems that Porter was much surprised to learn, on the 25th of February, that the ram Queen of the West was at Warrenton, seven miles below Vicksburg, with the rebel flag flying and steam up. The account Porter had received from Eilet led him to believe that the Queen was in such a condition that she could not be repaired for some time. “I knew,” says Admiral Porter in his letter, “that Brown could take care of the Webb by himself; but I have no idea that he will be a match for the Queen and Webb both amusing him at the same time. The Indianola is a weak vessel, and the only good thing about her is her battery.”

He proceeds to say that “during the time of the running of the blockade by the Queen and Indianola, five rebel guns were burst and dismounted in their forts. Therefore it was an object to make them fire as much as possible. I got a mortar in easy range, and open on that part of town where there was nothing but army supplies, and soon provoked a fire of four of their heavy batteries. The shell at first fell over the mortar and around it, bursting close to our men; but the range began to grow shorter and shorter, until they let us have it all our own way. Finding that they could not be provoked without an object, I thought of getting up and imitation Monitor. An old coal barge, picked up in the river, was the foundation to build on. It was constructed in 12 hours, of old boards, with pork barrels piled on top of each other for smoke stack, and two old canoes for quarter boats. Her furnaces were built of mud, and only intended to make black smoke and not steam. On the night of the 24th we heard, at nine o’clock, heavy guns about fifteen miles below. We knew that the rebels had nothing but light guns there, which could not be heard at any distance. So we thought it was the Indianola engaging the batteries at Carthage, fifteen miles below Vicksburg. Not knowing that Brown was in peril we let loose our Monitor. It was towed to within a couple of miles of the first battery and let go, when it was discovered by the dim light of the moon that Vicksburg was in a stew. Never did her batteries open with such a vim. The earth fairly trembled, and the shot flew thickly around the devoted Monitor, which returned no shot with her wooden gun. The Monitor ran safely passed all the batteries, though under a heavy fire for an hour, and drifted down safely to the lower mouth of the canal, where she was tucked into an eddy. The rebels were completely deceived by her. As soon as they saw her by daylight they opened on her again with all the guns they can bring to bear, but without a shot hitting her to do any harm; for the shot went through one side came out the other, without causing the vessel to sink, as she was full of water already. Our soldiers shouted and laughed like mad; but the laugh was somewhat against them when, at daylight, we discovered the ram Queen of the West lying at Warrenton; and the question at once arose what had happened to the Indianola. Had the two rams sunk her or captured her in the engagement we had heard the night before.

One or two of the soldiers got the Monitor out in the stream, and let her go down on the ram Queen. All the forts commenced firing and signalizing, and as the Monitor approached her the ram turned tail and ran down the river as fast as she could go, the Monitor after her, making all the speed that was given her by a five knot current. The forts at Warrenton fired bravely and rapidly, and it was reported that they had our Monitor in a very vulnerable spot. At last, when she was supposed to have got about twenty-five miles below Vicksburg, a loud explosion was heard, which the rebel telegrams show to have been “caused by the destruction of the Indianola.”